Is this appropriate? – Weeknote #205 – 3rd February 2023

Spent a lot of time this week reading, digesting, reviewing, and reflecting. Also attended a few meetings and spent time having conversations on Teams.

On Tuesday I went to our Bristol office. The train was delayed, so I started attending a meeting on my phone, which I find weird, but it worked.

Attended an internal meeting about Microsoft – Mixed Reality (MR) and Metaverse. There is some excitement around the Metaverse. As I said last week  industry perspectives on the metaverse and immersive platforms are varied. Meta, Google are all laying off technical staff in this space, Apple have delayed their AR/VR product again. Lots of confusion between immersive games and the Metaverse. Apart from some niche areas (such as education) what is the unique selling point of the metaverse? As Paul Bailey in a recent blog post said, the “effective” metaverse is probably decades away…

Had an interesting discussion about the Office for Students and its future. There is criticism that they have been receiving from members and member organisations (such as GuildHE and the Russell Group). Labour (who are likely to win the 2024 election) have been quiet on HE and the OfS. Also found and read this  Can Labour de-Commodify Higher Education? It has a Minor Problem.

The education system in Britain is in the mud. That is scarcely news. But would Labour have the courage and values needed to revive it? The trouble they would have if they win the next General Election is due partly to their Party’s legacy and partly to a personal problem.

Attended Monthly sector strategy leads meeting and discussion. We had an interesting discussion on scenario planning. Thinking about a workshop on this.

Image by Andreas Lischka from Pixabay

Attended the DfE HE sector emergency planning liaison group meeting reviewing sector guidance on power outages and cybersecurity. For power outages, most mitigation for emergency planning is to move online, of course this is hard to do without power. Thinking about how we may want to consider more specific mitigation guidance for universities on how to deliver learning during a blackout. I wrote about this back in October 2022 here and a follow up post here.

Did some planning for my Intelligent Campus session at Jisc’s Digifest.

Universities and colleges spend billions on their campuses, yet they are frequently underutilised and are often a frustrating experience for students. In this session, James Clay will describe the campus of the future. How does a traditional campus become a smart campus? What are the steps to make a smart campus, an intelligent campus? The intelligent campus builds on the smart campus concept and aims to find effective ways to use data gathered from the physical estate and combine it with learning and student data from student records, library systems, the virtual learning environment (VLE) and other digital systems. This session will describe what data can be gathered, how it can be measured and explore the potential for enhancing the student experience, achieving net zero, improve efficiency, and space utilisation. It will demonstrate and explain to the delegates what the exciting future of the intelligent campus. James will also ask delegates to consider the ethical issues when implementing an intelligent campus as well as the legal requirements.

It will be a fireside chat between myself and Dom Pates from City, University of London.

Progression of the publication of the second edition of the  Guide to the Intelligent Campus, which I am hoping will be launched at Digifest.

Had various conversations with teams across Jisc on learning spaces, smart campus work, pathfinder projects in the campus space, immersive spaces, and VR/AR.

Image by 小亭 江 from Pixabay

Spent some time looking at the revised PSF. Advance HE has launched its revised Professional Standards Framework (PSF) after a consultation involving higher education professionals from more than 20 countries – the first update to the framework, used to recognise staff professional development, since 2011. On Wonkhe Helen O’Sullivan explains how comprehensive consultation led to a professional standards framework by the sector, for the sector.

In bringing together a steering group to support the latest refresh of the PSF, we wanted to make sure that there was a community of experts who lead education across the sector. The group included colleagues from Australasia as that region is the next largest user of the PSF after the UK. In my mind throughout the review was the phrase that I had as the aim of the review; to be “for the sector, by the sector” and we constantly challenged ourselves to ensure that this process involved the widest possible level of consultation.

Main change from a digital and technology perspective is K4

Now: Appropriate use of digital and/or other technologies, and resources for learning

Was: The use and value of appropriate learning technologies

I am not a fan of the word appropriate. I wrote about this over ten years ago and I think it still stands today.

Now I don’t have a problem per se about the use of the word appropriate in this context. I don’t believe technology should be used all the time and every time. However what has happened is that the word appropriate has been appropriated as an excuse for not using technology.

In the article I also noted reactions by academic staff to the word appropriate.

So I hear practitioners saying, and these are all actual things I have heard people say:

“I won’t use mobile devices in my classroom as they are not appropriate”.

“Using the VLE with my learners is not appropriate.”

“The use of PSPs would not be appropriate with that group”

“Using the Interactive Whiteboard would not be appropriate for this subject.”

Yes, of course technologies have changed quite dramatically over the last ten years, but the sentiment of appropriateness hasn’t.

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

Lawrie Phipps pointed out to me a decision by China to not certify online degrees anymore. Though this was a pandemic measure, it has reverted to their pre-pandemic stance on ensuring students attend foreign universities in-person. Though this applies globally, as  January is the start of the Australian academic year the Chinese government announcement has resulted in Chinese students scrabbling to find flights to Australia to continue their studies. Australian universities have though welcomed the decision. There are caveats and other exclusions for existing students, but this reinforces the mantra that in-person face to face is better than online, distance, or blended.

video chat
Photo by Dylan Ferreira on Unsplash

Reading about defeating ChatGPT by Michael Webb. Lots of discussion across sector about AI tools and AI detection tools. Following on from ElevenLabs voices a couple of weeks ago, the technology has been used for deepfakes, for example Emma Watson reading Mein Kampf.

Read the QAA briefing on The rise of artificial intelligence software and potential risks for academic integrity: A QAA briefing paper for higher education providers.

It has been produced following widespread concern that new software tools like ChatGPT could be used by students to generate work on their behalf without correctly acknowledging or attributing their use. The briefing paper provides an overview of what the artificial intelligence (AI) tools are and their wider implications for staff and students in upholding the principles of academic integrity. To help members respond to the challenges, QAA has outlined action providers can take to safeguard existing assessments and academic standards. The briefing also highlights practices which can be employed to promote academic integrity in a wider context.

Read this blog post by Michael Webb.  A short experiment in defeating a ChatGPT detector – National centre for AI.

we suggested that “A war between AI plagiarism detection software and generative AI won’t help anyone​“ We want to share a quick example that shows why this might be the case.

Read 6 surprising facts about ChatGPT nobody told you. I liked this comment.

In fact, projects like ChatGPT use human programming to harvest human-made content, which is then vetted and prioritized by humans. It therefore contains human errors, human biases and human conclusions.

There are flaws within this article, quite a few….

Image by Spencer Garner from Pixabay

Planning the Senior Education and Student Experience Group meeting for the 20th March and 21st April. It is not expected that group members will attend both meetings, but are welcome to. Meetings will be hybrid in the AM with a hands on workshop in the afternoon. March meeting will focus on Student Experience.

Booked the UCISA Leadership Conference 2023 this year in Liverpool.

Booked the WONKHE Secret Life of Students event.

Attended P2P training. Getting easier to raise purchase orders now…

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Listened to TalkingHE podcast on Digital Leadership with Lawrie. Builds on his blog post on the future of digital leadership, and the work we did together on leadership.

Read and reviewed Beyond Flexible Learning from Advance HE. Some useful and interesting stuff in there.  Meeting the challenge of providing high quality and engaging learning experiences whilst leveraging the benefits of online learning.

As part of that I read and reviewed the guidance from Advance HE who have published a guide that defines “hybrid”.

This practice guide for course teams designing and delivering learning, describes the three key teaching modalities that may contribute to blended learning.

  • In-person learning: any form of formal or informal learning that requires physical co-presence of educators and students.
  • Synchronous online learning: formal online learning undertaken in groups in real-time facilitated by an educator.
  • Directed learning: flexible, self-paced learning activities that students carry out independently or as part of a team at a time and a location – online or in-person – that suits them.

Combining modalities provides choice of time and place of learning for educators and students.

  • Hybrid: a deliberate integration of synchronous (online and in-person) and directed learning, used sequentially such that any one modality will be used at a given time.
  • Hyflex: learning is offered in-person, synchronously online and asynchronously online, with students deciding how to participate.

We might want to ensure that sector wide guidance and work in this area is aligned with this definition for the benefit of the sector, and ensuring a sector wide shared understanding. Of course privately we can disagree about definitions of hybrid

Read How Teams will use AI (large language models and OpenAI GPT) to make meetings better…. It has got me thinking about the potential of this for student seminars via Teams. The AI generated chapters for example could be useful for students when referring back on a session.

My top tweet this week was this one.

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